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Monday, April 4, 2016

Mormonism and the Sabbath

Mormonism and the Sabbath
By Sean Killackey
January 24th, 2016

“One man judges one day as above another; another judges one day the same as all others; let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.” – Romans 14:5 NWT

“The Sabbath day is every seventh day. It is a holy day ordained by God for us to rest from our daily labors and worship Him,” says Gospel Principles (p. 13), a Mormon teacher’s manual. And the Encyclopedia of Mormonism comments, “When men and women are willing to work on the Sabbath to increase their wealth, they are breaking the commandments; for money taken in on the Sabbath, if the work is unnecessary, is unclean money,” and, “[Sabbath-breakers] are as rebellious as the children of Israel.” Therefore, the Sabbath is a present and incumbent, even if joyful, responsibility to Mormons. This position, though, is unscriptural.
The Sabbath of course is not evil. Jesus stated, “The Sabbath came into existence for the sake of man,” so follows that the Sabbath would have some practical and spiritual benefit for the observer. (Mark 2:27) Isaiah shows the benefits from proper observances of fasting and the Sabbath to the people of his day: the hungry are fed, the oppressed are freed, and the poor and homeless are helped, and Jehovah promises to bless them all. (Isaiah 56:1-14) So, if this is the case, how can requiring the observance of the Sabbath be unscriptural?
Plainly, the Sabbath is explicitly not incumbent upon Christians. It was not mentioned in the letter given to Christians in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. (Acts 15:23-29) Paul, as shown above, allowed people to choose their own position on whether they will celebrate it. And, while he doesn’t condemn the observance of the Sabbath, he never allows for the impression that it is necessary for Christians. Rather, he points out that it is among those things that are “a shadow of the things to come,” and condemns those that tried to enforce it in his day as trying to “deprive [others]” of “the prize.” To him, such ones were “not holding fast to [Christ].” He made the point they merely had “an appearance of wisdom,” and, while “a self-imposed form of worship,” required observance of the Sabbath actually belongs to “the elementary things of the world,” as does the idea that observance of the Mosaic Law as a whole is necessary. (Colossians 2:16-23) The requirement to observe the Sabbath, unlike the prohibition against murder, incest, fornication and blood, did not continue as part of “the law of faith.” – Romans 3:27-31
The disparity between what Mormons teach and what the Bible does is not on whether the Sabbath itself is good, but on whether it is required. Paul never condemned the Sabbath, for it, like the Law “is fine if one applies it properly.” How can it be applied properly? By recognizing what it stood for, the rest that God’s people can now enter into and enjoy, God’s own Sabbath. (Hebrews 4:4) If you choose to observe it, fine, but do not try to get others to do so.
Yes, while we “do our utmost to enter into that rest,” we do not ‘get burdened down with unnecessary things,’ nor do we ‘subject ourselves to such decrees.’ (Hebrews 4:11; Acts 15:28; Colossians 2:20) By doing so, we observe the greater Sabbath, the one that we must enter into, which is not on a particular day. Mormons, however, make the Sabbath part of God’s commandments. Our “level of salvation” is contingent on our observance of God’s commandments, which include the observance of the Sabbath, in Mormon thought. And a continual profaning of the Sabbath would prohibit one from “the fulnes [sic] of salvation.” This is clearly not what Paul taught.
While praying, contemplating spiritual things, and helping others – central aspects of the Sabbath – are all good, we can do them apart from the Sabbath. Therefore, any justification that could be derived from the command to “not [forsake] our meetings together, as some have the custom” (among others) comes to nothing. (Hebrews 10:25) Of course, Mormons do these activities on other days, as they should,[1] yet the commands and exhortations to do those things cannot be used to justify the required observance of the Sabbath. If it were otherwise, Paul would have been the foremost proponent of the Sabbath.
The Sabbath itself is no better than other days. We gather together, not because it is the Sabbath, but because we are told to. We pray, read and mediate, not because it is the Sabbath (even if we do it on the Sabbath day), but because those things are necessary. We help others, not because it is the Sabbath, but because we should “work what is good toward all.” – Galatians 6:10
The result from their teachings is that Mormons run contrary to God’s inspired word. Whereas they are right to say that we should pray, help others and come together to worship, they are wrong to conflate such things with the Sabbath and to restore other Sabbath day restrictions (for example, against buying or selling or recreation) upon us. The result is only “an appearance of wisdom,” but ‘the fullness of the shadow belongs to Christ.’ Such enforcers forsake (even if unintentionally) “the Head,” Christ.



[1] That is, if there religious services were scriptural. The habits themselves, at least in a general sense, are not wrong, though some of the particular facets of Mormon worship are unscriptural. (The pattern of worshipping God is not wrong, but how it is done is.)

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